Coteaux du Layon is a sweet white wine made in the Loire Valley of western France. Known as the “Garden of France,” the Loire Valley is famed for its stunning castles, breathtaking scenery and its high quality wine and agricultural production. The area was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Coteaux du Layon is made near the city of Angers along the Layon river, a tributary of the Loire river and has been protected by Protected Designation of Origin status since 1950. The earth here is composed primarily of shale, creating brown, dark-colored, shallow soils and are ideal for obtaining overripe grape harvests. The area has an oceanic climate with continental influences. The vines are produced along the well-exposed slopes of the meandering Layon river, which leads to much warmer micro-climates than would be expected for the area, producing occasional hot autumns and plentiful morning fog – ideal conditions for producing “noble rot,” a process that is used to create sweeter wine varieties.
The only type of grape variety that can be used to make Coteaux du Layon wine is the chenin variety. Harvests of the grapes are done by hand using selective sorting to pick the ripest grapes. The sugar content of the grapes is essential to the production of this sweet wine: The grapes must possess a naturally high sugar content or are left on the vine longer than usual, decreasing their volume in water content but increasing the percentage of sugar present.
The wine is yellowish in color with greener tints for younger wines and a golden, amber color for older wines. The taste is refreshing and presents hints of quince, pear, peach and honey. This wine has a long shelf-life – some varieties can be kept for up to 20 years. It is frequently enjoyed alongside foie gras or drank as an aperitif.
In addition to the general Coteaux du Layon label, certain areas that produce sweeter Coteaux du Layon varieties are also allowed to use special protected names alongside the main Coteaux du Layon label. Some examples include Beaulieu sur Layon, Faye d’Anjou and Rablay sur Layon, among others. More than 5,200,000 liters (around 1 374 000 gal) of Coteaux du Layon are produced every year in France.